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Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., the Chinese networking manufacturer involved in a bitter patent and copyright lawsuit with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), is fighting back against Cisco's legal attack and has outlined its defense in recent court papers.

The gist of Huawei's defense: While the company admits some of its routing products once held a small amount of Cisco IOS code, it says it no longer sells those routing products. It also denies there was any conspiracy to copy Cisco products.

Huawei last week filed a reply to Cisco’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas. Cisco had filed its motion on March 31, 2003, asking the court to force Huawei not to sell any of its products in the United States (see Huawei Admits Copying). Cisco alleged that Huawei stole its IOS operating system code and used it its Quidway routers (see Cisco/Huawei Brawl Begins).

“Cisco’s motion seeks to prevent Huawei from selling its products in the U.S. market and is no more than an attempt to stifle competition,” says the Huawei filing, dated April 10th.

The case could take years to resolve, but the preliminary injunction is a key battle. If the court rules in favor of Cisco, it could have a devastating effect on the newly formed joint venture between Huawei and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) (see 3Com Taps Huawei in Enterprise Battle). The two companies are expected to co-develop and co-market switching and routing products for the enterprise market throughout the world. But if Cisco is successful in getting an injunction, it’s possible that the joint venture will not be able to sell any of its products in the U.S.

But Huawei isn’t going down without a fight, as its latest filing suggests.

“The only facts Cisco had in its reply to the court concern products that Huawei proactively and voluntarily withdrew from the U.S. market and that will never be distributed again,” says Robert Haslam, partner at Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP, Huawei’s attorney. “These routers have been redesigned. Huawei’s good faith steps to take the relevant products off the market before any lawsuit was filed make Cisco’s actions unwarranted, and potentially unfairly damaging to Huawei, its customers, and the competitive landscape.”

FutureWei, Huawei’s U.S. subsidiary based in Plano, Texas, pulled its Quidway routers from the market in January 2003 (see Cisco Wins Round 1 Against Huawei). Since that time, Huawei says it has also stopped selling other routers using the same software code throughout the world.

Huawei says its new products, including the ones involved in the joint venture with 3Com, no longer have any Cisco source code in them. Bruce Claflin, 3Com’s CEO, has also attested to this fact in court papers.

Huawei cites a decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which implies that in order for the court to impose an injunction on all new Huawei products sold in the U.S., Cisco must prove that there is a good chance that Huawei will start selling the offending products again or sell new products that continue to infringe on Cisco’s patents and copyright. Huawei argues that a mere possibility of such action doesn’t warrant an injunction.

Cisco says it’s sticking to its guns. Although the company wouldn’t discuss the case at length, it submitted this statement regarding the latest filing:

“Nothing in Huawei's latest filing changes the fact that a broad injunction is necessary and appropriate to prevent Huawei's continued copying of Cisco's intellectual property,” says Kim Gibbons, a Cisco spokeswoman.

Huawei denies Cisco’s claims that the code under dispute, VRP, is still available on its English Websites and says that any information that remains is password protected and available only to Huawei engineers, who are currently working on fixing the code.

Huawei also claims there is no proof that the 1.5 million lines of code that resemble pieces of IOS came from Cisco. It says that IOS code has been, and is still, circulating through the Internet. It refers to an FTP server maintained by a Russian service provider where IOS code can be accessed.

As for targeting Cisco employees, Huawei says that out of its 33 Futurewei employees, only two are from Cisco, and neither of them were from Cisco’s routing division. What’s more, it asserts that all of its router development is done in China.

Huawei also refutes Cisco’s claim that it stole Cisco’s organizationally unique identifiers (OUI) used for data link switching (DLSw). In its March 31st filing, Cisco expanded its infringement claim, saying that Huawei had stolen Cisco identifiers in an attempt to pass off its routers as Cisco routers.

Huawei argues that the DLSw source code and the list of every manufacturer’s identification number is publicly available through the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to ensure interoperability among vendors.

One thing is blaringly evident: The battle between these two companies is far from over, as new details will likely continue to surface when more court papers are filed. A decision regarding the preliminary injunction is still pending.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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skeptic 12/5/2012 | 12:13:39 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone Huawei also claims there is no proof that the 1.5 million lines of code that resemble pieces of IOS came from Cisco. It says that IOS code has been, and is still, circulating through the Internet. It refers to an FTP server maintained by a Russian service provider where IOS code can be accessed.
===================

This is an original defense for software theft.
Yes, we admit that we stole 1.5 million lines of
code but we stole it from one of your customers
not from you.

If what they said is correct, its an admission by
Huawei that they engaged in systematic copying
of IOS and an admission that they used IOS
source code as a design tool for their product.
Thats a new admission beyond the previous
admissions that:

1) A small amount of code was directly copied.
2) They violated all the cisco patents.


That "1.5 million lines" comment alone would seem
to dig them a hole so deep that they are going
to have a tough time ever getting out.

If its true, the entire Huawei software base
is "tainted" and its not going to be a matter
of just removing a few lines of code.

firstmile 12/5/2012 | 12:13:37 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone Seems pretty clear...but think of how much money the lawyers on each side will make during this battle.
rafaelg 12/5/2012 | 12:13:37 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone Go Huawei!!! Don't let Cisco's big pocket intimidate anyone!!

I would like to know if anyone that is a softeng, has never copied and pasted a few lines!!! Specially if they are so common that a chimp can type them...
Give me a break!! Cisco's code can't be all original in 1.5M lines...
This is as comical a subject as the war on telecomm thread and Lu sues Bill Gates...he,he,ha,ha... Let's copyright the line mov 55h...!!!

What, the big Lawyers have no work?
billy_fold 12/5/2012 | 12:13:34 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone Copying a few lines of somebody's code is what we call stealing over here. You can laugh it off behind bars.


-billy
jeb_knucklehead 12/5/2012 | 12:13:31 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone

If Huawei is admitting to stealing Cisco's software, what else have they stolen? Is IP theft part one of Hauwei's corporate values? It certainly seems that way.

It's prety tough to get caught stealing software unless you copy huge sections of code.

Additionally, the orignial Cisco code is probably so embedded in their IOS that removing it would cripple their business.

I have no love for Cisco but this theft admission should drive Huawei out of business. This is the technical equivalent of the whole Enron fracas. 3COM ought to wise up and ditch the Huawei partnership, lest they get painted with the same brush.

Who is going to want to do business with a rip-off artist?
WiserNow 12/5/2012 | 12:13:30 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone Until China joined the World Trade Organization, they officially refused to recognize intellectual property protections. Huawei probably used the code long ago, while it was officially ok in China. Corporate ethics vary regionally -- one of the reasons the WTO exists.

It is a complex set of issues. Perhaps Cisco is doing the world a favor by using their attorneys to fight to create a precedent. Does Huawei live up to the license conditions for any OpenSource they use?
BlueFox 12/5/2012 | 12:13:30 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone If Huawei software contains some amount of Cisco source code this means that Huawei has the source code. If they have the source this means that they have used it to understand how to implement other routing functionality. Even if the rest of Huawei's source code appears differant on the surface from Cisco's software, the Huawei code is still stolen since it is derived from stolen code. More than likely, Huawei has applied this stolen knowledge across all their routing product lines.
fhe 12/5/2012 | 12:13:29 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone you have a different code, and declare the "Cisco code is gone". Easy enough.
FinBurger 12/5/2012 | 12:13:27 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone Sorry, but that isn't true. You can't protect information like that. If proper methods are used to reverse engineer the software, and produce a functionally equivalent copy, you haven't stolen anything.

Just ask any PC BIOS maker,
or Apple - who 'stole' from Xerox, or
Microsoft - who 'stole' from Apple.

Face it, the 'information age' is rife with IP theft. What it comes down to is 1) who can sell for the lowest price, and 2) who has the larger set of lawyers.

The trouble for Cisco is that their growth market is the developing world - especially China. If the U.S. prohibits Huawei's equipment from the US, be ready for China to prohibit Cisco. Tit for tat.



BlueFox 12/5/2012 | 12:13:26 AM
re: Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone Sorry, but that isn't true. You can't protect information like that. If proper methods are used to reverse engineer the software, and produce a functionally equivalent copy, you haven't stolen anything.

Sorry, but it is true. Reverse engineering is not stealing someone's source code, deciphiring the algorithims, and then rewriting them with differant procedure and variable names.

Whether Huawei did that or not is unknown. However, if they have the source code then it is reasonable to assume that they did. I guess in your world stealing is a "proper method".

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